The Great Turkey Rescue

The Great Turkey Rescue

By: Denise Selbee-Koch

In July 2017, after waiting for weeks for the river to come down to levels that were safe and included sandbars, we FINALLY led a group of Dirty Girls on a great adventure. We headed out from St. George with a great flow and a group of about 40 Dirty Girls who were eager to enjoy a day on the Kaw.

As we floated down the river on a gorgeous sunny day, we enjoyed the great flow rate and the company. We always run a trip with a "point" person and a "sweep" at the end and some safety paddlers within the mix. I was running point and chatting with several paddlers around me when I noticed movement from the corner of my eye. Something had just erupted from the greenery on the high right bank and kerplopped into the river. I looked over and said, "What the heck, that's a TURKEY!" The girl next to me said, "No, it has to be a goose or something." We paddled toward the bird, noting that it had a turkey strut motion going with it's long neck and that it was a turkey AND that there was a brown DOG hot in pursuit behind it!

We watched a moment and decided we were worried. The flow rate was stiff and the animals were paddling while rapidly floating down river. As we watched, the dog gave a strong push and lunged to catch the turkey. The turkey flapped and evaded the dog but both were obviously getting tired. We took that chance to move towards them. Dirty Girl Stacy paddled to separate the dog from the chase and herded it back to the river bank. We didn't want it to end up far from home or on the wrong side of the river.

Meanwhile, I watched the turkey struggle to stay afloat. I was nervous about touching him so I reached out and tried to give him a little push towards the shore but, like a beach ball he just dipped down in the water and popped back up. We were floating pretty much in the middle of the Kaw and he was getting tired.

There were several Dirty Girls around me and we were trying to decide how to help, we couldn't let the turkey just float until he drowned in the middle of the river and in the middle of 40 kayaking Dirty Girls. So.... I reached out and picked him up. I was worried he might fight or spur me but he seemed grateful for the rest.

Holding a large turkey over the side of your kayak is fairly awkward and uncomfortable so I decided that I would risk moving him to my lap. I literally thought, "Well, I'm wearing sunglasses so other than cuts I won't be hurt badly." I lifted him directly into my lap. He was so happy and tired that he laid his head onto my neck and relaxed.

The other Dirty Girls hooked up and pulled us towards the shore so that Mr. Turkey could get back to his natural environment. He recharged a little and took his time looking around and observing his new found friends.

Judy Bailey had chosen this day to bring her good camera on the river to capture some shots, she was conveniently close and captured the Great Turkey Rescue in photos. This was a good thing because no one would ever believe this crazy story without the photos to support it!


jenna goodman